March 26th 2020 until Jan 25th 2021
With over 200 staff and over 50 programmes running at various times, Living Hope is a complex organization, which is best seen in person to understand the full extent of the services offered. When we take guests on a tour of the 8 different Living Hope ministry sites, the vast nature of the organization is often very surprising to them! The same is true of the Living Hope COVID-19 response. It is best understood when it is seen, and the vast impact has also been surprising! We hope that this report helps you to “see” the effect that Living Hope has had in the last eleven months since COVID arrived.
The last eleven months for us as an organization have tested our commitment, flexibility, teamwork, strength and responsiveness, and we are so pleased that our staff have risen to the challenge, meeting this exceptional trial with grace and generosity. Our wonderful staff have worked tirelessly to get us through this last year, and we would like to publicly acknowledge their commitment and dedication to the task at hand.
At the outset of the first COVID19 lockdown in March 2020, Living Hope began preparing as best as we could to face the unknowns that this illness brought to our doorstep. We anticipated that COVID would bring some of the biggest challenges we had ever faced, but also that this was a truly unique opportunity for us to adapt in response to the needs around us. Although we understood the high risk of infection to our staff, we were compelled by our Mission and Vision to not turn aside but rather press into the hard places where we were needed. COVID was predicted to be a catastrophic time, especially for the informal settlements, and we felt that we had a mandated role to walk beside those facing illness, hunger, and economic crisis related to COVID.
The strength of Living Hope has always been our ability as an organization to adapt and respond to the changing needs and circumstances of our communities, and COVID-19 was no different. With the basket of services and programmes already offered by Living Hope, we were well prepared to adapt these programmes into meaningful interventions meeting both practical and spiritual needs of the people. We moved forward not in fear but in FAITH. We had faith that God had historically used Living Hope in times of uncertainty to have a great impact. We hoped that our strategic positioning and the trust that we had built within our communities over the previous 20 years would assist us in Bringing Hope & Breaking Despair during this crisis.
Our leadership and trustees worked around the clock with Government and Disaster Management at all levels establishing our alignment with their response strategy and to outline our responsibilities at that time. Living Hope identified 4 areas that became our “Essential Services” through this time. We sought to adapt all of our ministries and programmes to support these 4 priorities:
1. Protecting and supporting our front-line Health Care staff. Our Health staff are qualified Community Health Workers, and their experience and training prepared them well for such a time as this. Our aim in protecting them from COVID19 infection employed a multi-faceted approach in keeping them healthy while supporting their door-to-door hands-on care for those infected or affected by COVID-19. This type of work is extremely difficult and we were blessed to be able to protect our staff with the necessary PPE, sanitizing supplies, food parcels to support their personal nutrition, and frequent psychosocial debriefing during this difficult period. We are so happy to report that our staff infection rate of COVID was extremely low over the past year.
2. Nutritional support. We knew that with an unemployment rate already at +/- 40% in our communities, that the coming economic storm would hit our vulnerable communities very hard. Jobs began to be lost immediately and we were hit with both a health and a hunger crisis at the same time. Food became a vital lifeline. The monumental scale of food distribution undertaken by Living Hope and in conjunction with many external partners cannot be overstated. Donors gave generously and without coercion. A local philanthropist entrusted us with over R6,000,000 worth of Food Voucher money. 15,677 Food Vouchers worth R350 each were distributed to the most needy. 5734 Food Parcels worth about R450 each were delivered to people’s doors by Living Hope teams. These folk were carefully selected, genuinely unemployed who were on a carefully compiled COVID-19 database, which was monitored weekly by Community leaders. Food to the value of a staggering R7,965,102 was distributed.
Food support and delivery continues through many routes and methods including food/grocery vouchers, food parcels, eeZeePaste™ NUT RUTF nutritional food supplements, Ndihluthi Stew distribution, and training and cooking with Wonderbag slow cooker technology using fresh veggies specially grown on Living Hope’s farm which means the most wholesome of Veggies are given to the Cooking Mamas. Living Hope also facilitated the formation of the “Masiphumelele Relief and Care Forum” which divided Masiphumelele into 22 different sections, each with a team leader who oversees 7 designated Wonderbag trained cooks in each section. Conservatively estimated, the beneficiaries of Living Hope’s food relief efforts are just under half a million people served. We are so encouraged and wonderfully surprised by this “loaves and fishes” outcome, which is nothing short of a miracle!
3. Chronic Medication Distribution is normally a support service for clients who find it difficult to get to the pharmacy to collect the medications they are prescribed for everyday use. Suddenly, this service became absolutely essential, as hospitals were unable to cope with COVID plus the extra burden of chronic clients in the queues. For vulnerable populations, getting the medications that treat HIV/TB/ was absolutely essential. We were able to redeployed staff to deliver each person’s medication to their front door, completing a household assessment or home visit, (observing physical distance) ministering to them and evaluating the entire household for any other needs. To date, we have delivered 28, 209 medication parcels. Essentially these are 30,000 patients that have been enabled to stay at home during this time!
4. Our 22-bed In-patient Health Care Centre remained fully open for step-down and sub-acute patients coming mainly from overfilled government hospitals. This eased the burden of care on the larger hospitals. Our Health Care Centre quickly transformed one of its wings into a separate unit ready to take clients recovering from COVID or awaiting transfer, including the use of a piped oxygen system ready to support these clients if needed. Due to the global shortage of testing kits, clients may or may not have been tested for COVID before admission to our hospital, so it was necessary to keep these clients and the staff that care for them, separate from the rest of the hospital. Extra staff were employed to care for these folk. We are very proud of how our staff adapted to meet the needs of these clients.
We praise God for sustaining Living Hope and indeed GROWING our ministries during this difficult time. What we have managed over the past 11 months is truly only by God’s help and the generous support of our broader community, including other non-profits, civil service societies, churches and other faith-based initiatives, businesses, Trusts and individual donors. Over the last eleven months, we have served 1.2milion people delivering R10million of COVID relief goods and services, across 8 locations. (Total Beneficiaries: 1 242 849 Value: R 9 978 416,08) These COVID specific interventions were carried out in alignment with our Mission and Vision and are truly a testimony to seeking the opportunity to serve with responsive and integrated services. We are very blessed indeed, as an organization to have ended 2020 on a strong and positive note despite the difficult past year of COVID and the recent devastating fire in Masiphumelele. We have had a record number of clients enrol in our Substance Abuse Recovery Programme, our community partnerships are stronger than ever before, our farming programme is expanding and our Health Care Centre is in the final stages of a lengthy but necessary licensing process. Our networking has greatly increased as the result of the Cape Town community coming around to support after the fire in Masi. We are humbled and grateful to God for His provision and care. Detailed reports are available upon request and we look forward to sharing our Annual Report with you later this year in August 2021.